Prince was one of the most prolific musicians of our time. Throughout his four-decades long career, starting with his first album, For You, in 1978 and ending way too soon with HITnRUN Phase Two last fall, Prince sold 150 million records, made 39 albums, and wrote, produced and released somewhere between 500 and 1000 songs by other artists and himself. And a never-before published interview with Prince from Rolling Stone , released on Thursday following his death, will make you miss the artist even more, because in the interview, Prince said he would never retire, and that there's even more magical music sequestered away somewhere.
Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt published the interview he conducted with Prince at the artist's recording studio Paisley Park in 2014. Among other topics like sex, what kind of music Prince listened to, and Michael Jackson, Prince revealed for the first time that in addition to his enormous, incredible body of work, he was hoarding a wealth of unreleased music. "I've never said this before, but I didn't always give the record companies the best song," he said. "There are songs in the vault that no one's ever heard. There are several vaults; it's not just one vault." Being Prince, I'm pretty sure he's referring to actual, heavily guarded vaults full of purple crystals.
Hiatt, understandably struck with awe, asked if that meant somewhere there were hidden whole, secret Prince albums:
Yeah, I like time capsule stuff. I have a couple Revolution albums in the vault and two Time albums, one Vanity 6 album … and tons of stuff recorded in different periods. But so much gets recorded that you don't have time to compile everything. In the future you could put all the best stuff from one particular time period together and then you can release it.
Just to twist the knife in the wound, Hiatt also asked Prince about retirement, to which he Princely responded: "I don't know what that is. There's always a way to serve." And how long did he plan on performing? For as long as he lived. He said,
Well, life spans are getting longer. One of the reasons is because people are learning more about everything, so then the brain works more, makes more connections and then eventually we'll be in eternal brain mode because we'll be able to hold eternity in our minds.
Prince obviously already held eternity in his mind; he was just waiting for the rest of us to catch up.
The mysterious, sensual, and stand-offish Prince Rogers Nelson was one of the best-selling and most influential artists of all time, known as much for his subversive, sexy songs as his magnanimous persona. Though it's exciting to know that somewhere there are even more Prince songs to bring funky, soulful, sexy joy into our lives, it's also deeply sad, because we'll never get to see Prince perform them live. (Not seeing him is one the biggest regrets of my personal life). And an even more-horrifying prospect: that the music will never be released.
It's no wonder that he was so private; he was constantly, recording, producing, and creating. His level of artistry and the sheer volume of beautiful work he released just confirms that Prince was, indeed, a unicorn. And the most beautiful and saddest part of this strangely prophetic interview is when Hiatt asked Prince if he wanted that catalog of music to be released when he was gone. Prince responded as only Prince could: "No, I don't think about gone. I just think about in the future when I don't want to speak in real time."